Controversy over Kosovo independence

Controversy over Kosovo independence

The unilateral declaration of independence of Kosovo from Serbia has generated controversy in international politics. For a start, it has led to deep divisions between those states that recognise the declaration and those that do not. (See International reaction to the 2008 Kosovo declaration of independence.) However, the controversy over Kosovo independence includes not only the legality of the declaration itself, but also the fate of Kosovo Serbs, the impact on international relations, and whether it sets a legal precedent for other separatist conflicts throughout the world.

Legality of independence

United Nations Security Council Resolution 1244, passed in 1999, reaffirmed in its preamble the "commitment of all Member States to the sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia" and authorised "an international civil presence in Kosovo in order to provide an interim administration for Kosovo under which the people of Kosovo can enjoy substantial autonomy within the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia", i.e. the United Nations Interim Administration Mission in Kosovo (UNMIK), with security provided by a NATO-led Kosovo Force (KFOR). The Resolution also authorised a process to determine Kosovo's final status. Concerning the latter, Annex 1 to the Resolution states that the "political solution to the Kosovo crisis" should take "full account of ... the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia".

In the context of the above, the controversy over the legal basis of Kosovo's status has centered on two fundamental principles of international law: the principle of the territorial integrity of states and the right to self-determination of peoples. Despite the general belief that there is a universal right to self-determination, as laid down in the UN Charter, until recently this right has usually been viewed as having only limited application. Specifically, it has been applied to territories under military occupation or colonies. Even in these cases, the application of the right of self-determination was seen to be applicable only at the point of decolonisation. Instead, the emphasis has been placed on the territorial integrity of states. This too is laid down in the UN Charter.

In the context of European security, the 1975 Helsinki Final Act specifies "Inviolability of frontiers" and "Territorial integrity of States" on one hand and "Equal rights and self-determination of peoples" on the other hand. Where the two principles come into collision, the international community has previously favoured the principle of the inviolability of borders. In these cases, the right to self-determination was instead interpreted as a right for a minority population of a specific community to manage their own affairs within the framework of an existing state according to some form of autonomy. In this regard, those who oppose Kosovo's declaration of independence argue that the move was unacceptable under the previously existing framework of international law.

Supporters of Kosovo's independence take a different view and argue that there is an emerging understanding of the principle of self-determination that is more fluid than the traditional view. For example, according to a NATO report on the question of Kosovo's status (see External Links), the Declaration on Friendly Relations states a region may have the right of secession in the case of foreign occupation or if the region is a colony of another nation. The NATO report claims, while mentioning disagreement on the interpretation, that a third condition exists when "a people whose right to internal self-determination has been thoroughly violated by a Government that does not represent the people" and suggests Kosovo qualifies under this condition. In the report a Canadian Supreme Court ruling on the secession of Quebec is cited which states:

Following this, the NATO report discusses the exercise of what is seen as an emerging right to secession in international law represented by the response of the international community in the cases of the secessionist movements in Eritrea, East Timor, the USSR, and Yugoslavia. However, it concludes that while there is a case in favor of a right to secession for Kosovo, the report nevertheless rejects the right to secession in cases where regions are open to democratic mechanisms.

In the preamble of the Constitution of Serbia Kosovo is defined as an "integral part" of Serbia with "fundamental autonomy". On 18 February 2008, the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia declared Kosovo's declaration of independence null and void per the suggestion of the Government of the Republic of Serbia, after the Constitutional Court of the Republic of Serbia deemed the act illegal on the basis of the UN Charter, the Constitution of Serbia, the Helsinki Final Act, UNSCR 1244 (including previous resolutions) and the Badinter Commission. [ [ Decision of the National Assembly of the Republic of Serbia regarding the Confirmation of the Decision of the Government of the Republic of Serbia regarding the Abolition of Illegal Acts of the Provisional Institutions of Self-Government in Kosovo and Metohia in regards to the unilateral Declaration of Independence] ] . On March 27, 2008 Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said Serbia would request the International Court of Justice to review the legality of Kosovo's declaration of independence. [cite news|url=|title=Serbia to seek World Court opinion about Kosovo's declaration of independence|publisher=International Herald Tribune|date=2008-03-27|accessdate=2008-03-27]

International Court of Justice case

On 26 March 2008, the Government of Serbia announced its plan to call on the International Court of Justice to rule on the declaration of Kosovo’s secession. Serbia will seek to have the court's opinion on whether the declaration was in breach of international law. Also, an initiative seeking international support will be undertaken at the United Nations General Assembly when it gathers again in New York in September of 2008. [ [ Serbia to go to ICJ over Kosovo] ]

On August 15, Serbian Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremić officially filed a request at the United Nations seeking opinion of the International Court of Justice. United Nations General Assembly will vote on this proposal when it reconvenes in September. [ [ UN: Jeremić sutra zvanično predaje predlog rezolucije] ]

The text of the resolution filed in the UN reads as follows::Reflecting on the goals and principles of the UN, bearing in mind the functions and power in line with the UN Charter, we recall that on February 17, 2008 the provisional institutions of self-government of Kosovo proclaimed independence from the Republic of Serbia.

:Aware that this act was received differently by UN members in relation to its harmonisation with the existing legal order,

:We decide to request from the ICJ, in line with Article 96 of the UN Charter and Article 65 of the ICJ Statute, to give an advisory opinion on the following question:

:“Is the unilateral declaration of independence by provisional institutions of self-government in Kosovo in accordance with international law?”

The United Nations General Assembly adopted this proposal on October 8, 2008 with 77 votes in favor, 6 votes against and 74 abstentions. [cite news|url=|title=UN seeks World Court Kosovo view|publisher=BBC|date=2008-10-08|accessdate=2008-10-08]

The 77 countries that voted for the initiative A/63/L.2 of Serbia were: Algeria, Angola, Antigua and Barbuda, Argentina, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bolivia, Botswana, Brazil, Brunei, Cambodia, Chile, China, Costa Rica, Cuba, Cyprus, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Dominica, Dominican Republic, East Timor, Egypt, El Salvador, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Fiji, Greece, Guatemala, Guinea, Guyana, Honduras, Iceland, India, Indonesia, Iran, Jamaica, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Liechtenstein, Madagascar, Mauritius, Mexico, Montenegro, Myanmar, Namibia, Nicaragua, Niger, Nigeria, North Korea, Norway, Panama, Papua New Guinea, Paraguay, Philippines, Republic of the Congo, Romania, Russia, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Serbia, Singapore, Slovakia, Solomon Islands, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Suriname, Swaziland, Syria, Tanzania, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Vietnam, Zambia and Zimbabwe.

The 6 countries that opposed the initiative were: Albania, Federated States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Nauru, Palau and the United States.

The 74 countries that abstained from voting were Afghanistan, Andorra, Armenia, Australia, Austria, Bahamas, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Barbados, Belgium, Belize, Benin, Bhutan, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Canada, Colombia, Croatia, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Grenada, Haiti, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Jordan, Latvia, Lebanon, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malaysia, Malta, Moldova, Monaco, Mongolia, Morocco, Nepal, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Oman, Pakistan, Peru, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Saint Lucia, Samoa, San Marino, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Slovenia, South Korea, Sweden, Switzerland, Thailand, Togo, Trinidad and Tobago, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, Vanuatu, and Yemen.

Representatives of 35 countries were absent during the vote, namely Bosnia and Herzegovina, Burundi, Cape Verde, Central African Republic, Chad, Comoros, Côte d'Ivoire, Ecuador, Ethiopia, Gabon, Gambia, Guinea Bissau, Iraq, Kiribati, Kuwait, Laos, Libya, Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Rwanda, Saint Kitts and Nevis, São Tomé and Príncipe, Seychelles, Somalia, Tajikistan, Tonga, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Tuvalu and Venezuela. Liberia voted against the resolution, but the vote wasn't included due to technical reasons. [cite web|url=|title=Backing Request by Serbia, General Assembly Decides to Seek International Court of Justice Ruling on Legality of Kosovo’s Independence|publisher=United Nations|date=2008-10-08|accessdate=2008-10-09] [cite news|url=|title=Velika diplomatska pobeda Srbije u UN|publisher=Blic|date=2008-10-09|accessdate=2008-10-09|language=Serbian]

tatus of Kosovo Serbs

Attacks on the border posts of Kosovo raised fears of a separation of Northern Kosovo and subsequent merger with Serbia. [cite news|url=|title=Serbian convoy enters Kosovo amid fears over partition of new state|publisher=The Guardian|date=2008-02-20|accessdate=2008-02-20] Russian diplomat Alexander Botsan-Kharchenko, who took part in the negotiations on the status of Kosovo, said such partition was inevitable:

Under Secretary for Political Affairs Nicholas Burns, in response to the suggestion that Kosovo be partitioned, said "We absolutely oppose the partition of Kosovo," and that the "great majority of countries around the world are not going to stand for that." [cite news|url=|title=US 'absolutely' opposed to Kosovo partition|publisher=Agence France Presse|date=2008-02-28|accessdate=2008-03-09] In response to the seizure of railways in Northern Kosovo and formation of Serbian offices to serve as part of a parallel government Kosovo's Prime minister stated that they would "not tolerate any parallel institution on Kosovo's territory" and would assert their authority over all of Kosovo. [cite news|url=|title=Kosovo PM: End to Parallel Structures|publisher=Balkan Insight|date=2008-03-07|accessdate=2008-03-09] The UN's Special Representative in Kosovo said the "international community has made it very clear that no partition of Kosovo will be acceptable." [cite news|url=|title=UN: Kosovo Partition 'Not An Option'|publisher=Balkan Insight|date=2008-03-05|accessdate=2008-03-09]

Ivan Eland a Senior Fellow at the Independent Institute suggested such "a partition within a partition" would prevent a "Serbia-Kosovo War" and provides the "best chance" of Kosovo having a long-term stable relationship with Serbia. [cite news|url=|title=Prevent trouble with partition of Kosovo|publisher=The Detroit News|Eland|last=Eland|first=Ivan|Authorlink=Ivan|date=2008-02-20|accessdate=2008-03-09] Chairman of the Serb Municipalities of Kosovo Alliance Marko Jakšić dismissed the talk of partition and said the action of Serbs in Kosovo is to protest the Kosovo declaration. Oliver Ivanović a Kosovo Serb leader, said he was against Kosovo's partition because "most Serbs live south of the Ibar and their position would become unsustainable".cite news|url=|title=K. Serb leader: Partition talk is nonsense|publisher=B92|date=2008-02-25|accessdate=2008-03-09]

A Reuters analysis suggeted that Kosovo may be divided along ethnic lines similar to Bosnia-Herzegovina. James Lyon of the International Crisis Group thinktank was quoted as saying "The Republika Srpska (Bosnian Serb Republic) style is acceptable for Serbia, but within the confines that it (Kosovo) is still part of Serbia." [cite news|url=|title=Serbs bid for Bosnia-style division in Kosovo|publisher=Reuters|last=Robinson|first=Matt|date=2008-02-29|accessdate=2008-03-09] Pieter Feith, the European Union's special representative in Kosovo, and the International Civilian Representative for Kosovo said no plans are under discussion to carve out a canton or grant any other autonomy to Serbs living in the north of Kosovo. He told the Pristina, Kosovo, daily Koha Ditore, "It is quite clear that the privileged relations between the Serbs here (in Kosovo) and Belgrade are in the spheres of education, healthcare and religious objects," adding that "the government in Pristina has to be respected." [cite news|url=|title=EU dismisses Serb autonomy in Kosovo|publisher=United Press International|date=2008-03-03|accessdate=2008-03-09]

On March 22, 2008 Serbia's Minister for Kosovo, Slobodan Samardzic said he had submitted a proposal to the United Nations Mission which would create "the functional separation of Serbs and Albanians" within Kosovo. [cite news|url=|title=Serbia Proposes Ethnic Division in Kosovo|publisher=Voice of America News|date=2008-03-22|accessdate=2008-03-22] Serbia's Foreign Minister Vuk Jeremic said implementing such a proposal was necessary to avoid violent conflict.cite news|url=|title=Serbia to push for separating ethnic Serbs from Kosovo|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-03-27|accessdate=2008-03-27] Yevgeny Primakov, Chairman of the Russian Chamber of Commerce and former prime minister under Boris Yeltsin, said “the best solution now would be if the Serbs (could) move from the southern parts… to the north, which is closer to Serbia, and to then join Serbia." [cite news|url=|title=Russian Official Calls for Kosovo Partition|publisher=Balkan Insight|date=2008-03-26|accessdate=2008-03-27]

Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica declared in an interview with a local television station in Jagodina that a "functional separation" of Kosovo was inevitable. [cite news|url=|title=Koštunica: Functional separation in Kosovo "inevitable"|publisher=B92|date=2008-05-02|accessdate=2008-05-08] A Kosovo Serb ally of Kostunica, Marko Jaksic, said Kosovo Serbs would form their own assembly following local elections considering the plan for the "functional division" of Kosovo. He argued that the Kosovo Assembly was dominated by "Albanian puppets" who would not work in the interest of the Serb minority. [cite news|url=|title=Kosovo Serbs to seek own assembly|publisher=Television New Zealand|date=2008-05-07|accessdate=2008-05-08] The mayor of Mitrovica condemned the formation of a parallel municipal assembly in North Mitrovica by Serbs on June 6, 2008 following the election, saying the institution was illegal as well as the elections. [cite news|url=|title=Kosovo Mayor Slams Serb Parallel Council|publisher=Balkan Insight|date=2008-06-06|accessdate=2008-06-06] Serbian parties also agreed to form a parliament for Kosovo Serbs including 45 delegates, 43 from the local assemblies and two seats reserved for Romani and Muslims. [cite news|url=|title=Kosovo Serbs’ Provisional Parliament Will Be Formed By June 15|publisher=eYugoslavia|date=2008-06-07|accessdate=2008-06-07] Slobodan Samardžić announced that the Kosovo Serb assembly would be formed on June 28th. He said the body would be representative not executive. [cite news|url=|title=Belgrade to Form Serb Assembly in Kosovo|publisher=Balkan Insight|date=2008-06-13|accessdate=2008-06-13] Pieter Feith said it would be "regrettable if another set of parallel institutions" were formed in Kosovo and added "the state of Kosovo must rule in its entire territory". [cite news|url=|title=Feith critical of K. Serb parliament|publisher=B92|date=2008-06-08|accessdate=2008-06-13] On June 23, 2008 NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said "any form of partition is not an option" in Kosovo. [cite news|url=|title=NATO chief rules out Kosovo partition|publisher=Xinhua|date=2008-06-23|accessdate=2008-06-27]

Samardzic said in an interview that the UN had accepted a Serb proposal on Kosovo which included a partnership with UNMIK that would effectively give it rights to run vital services. Areas identified as key were police, customs, justice, control of the Serbia-Kosovo border, transport and telecoms, and protection of Serbia's cultural heritage. He said it was included in a package on reconfiguring UNMIK. [cite news|url=|title=INTERVIEW-Serbia expects key powers in north Kosovo|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-06-06|accessdate=2008-06-06] According to some reports the UN will give way to EULEX in Albanian areas, but retain control over police in Serb-inhabited areas and set up local and district courts serving minority Serbs. [cite news|url=|title=Kosovo: UN to reconfigure mission to recognise 'new realities'|publisher=International Herald Tribune|date=2008-06-12|accessdate=2008-06-13] On June 12 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon, in a report to the U.N. Security Council, said he plans to give more authority to the EU over police, courts and other official duties in Kosovo with EULEX under the UN umbrella. Argon Bajrami, editor in chief of the Kosovo daily Koha Ditore, said the proposal would legal the "so-called 'soft partition'" saying, "We will see the U.N. taking care of Serbs, and the EU of Albanians." [cite news|url=|title=Serbia criticizes UN chief's plan to reconfigure body's Kosovo mission|publisher=International Herald Tribune|date=2008-06-13|accessdate=2008-06-14] [cite news|url=|title=Serbia rejects UN proposal on Kosovo EU mission|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-06-13|accessdate=2008-06-14]

Mayor of Mitrovica, Bajram Rexhepi, who is also a former prime minister of Kosovo claimed Serbian interior ministry forces were operating in North Kosovo. The mayor urged security authorities to insure no parallel structures exist in Kosovo. He added that though provocation is being avoided their restraint is limited. [cite news|url=|title=Kosovo Mayor Warns of Tension in North|publisher=Balkan Insight|date=2008-06-20|accessdate=2008-06-27]

Serbian President Boris Tadic on September 30, 2008 said he would consider partitioning Kosovo if all other options were exhausted. Former Foreign Minister for Serbia and Montenegro, Goran Svilanović, applauded the suggestion saying "Finally this is a realistic approach coming from Serbia. Finally, after several years, there is a room to discuss." [cite news|url=|title=Serbian president says dividing Kosovo an option: report|publisher=Agenc France-Presse|date=2008-09-30|accessdate=2008-10-01] After his comments aroused controversy in the media Tadic reiterated that he was suggesting this as a possibility only if all other options were exhausted. [cite news|url=|title=Tadić "not suggesting Kosovo partition"|publisher=B92|date=2008-10-01|accessdate=2008-10-01] Kosovo's parliamentary speaker, Jakup Krasniqi, condemned any suggestion of paritioning saying, "All of those who aim to divide Kosovo, I want to say, it will end in nothing. Serbs lost their right to Kosovo with the unjust war against the Albanian majority." [cite news|url=|title=Kosovo slams Serb leader’s partition claim|publisher=Sofia Echo|date=2008-10-01|accessdate=2008-10-01]

Kosovo's independence: a precedent or a unique case?

Several states which have come out against Kosovo's declaration of independence, such as Spain and Russia argue Kosovo would set a precedent. Such a precedent would prioritise the self-determination of prospective states over the territorial integrity of the host state, thus stimulating separatism. This "Kosovo precedent" could involve territorial disputes in several unrecognised states around the world. This interpretation is disputed with several countries who argue Kosovo is a sui generis case.

In its declaration of independence, Kosovo claimed that it was a special case::" ... Observing that Kosovo is a special case arising from Yugoslavia's non-consensual breakup and is not a precedent for any other situation, Recalling the years of strife and violence in Kosovo, that disturbed the conscience of all civilised people, ...".

In other words, Kosovo claims its independence is a special case because it is a result of the Kosovo War and continues the breakup of Yugoslavia.

The Unrepresented Nations and Peoples Organisation said that recognition of Kosovo would "redefine and clarify key concepts of international law." [] It said:

In a statement issued February 19th the U.S. State Department argued every territorial conflict is unique. It said Kosovo's unilateral independence cannot be used by other states to resolve disputes.cite news|url=|title=Kosovo autonomy is no precedent for other territorial conflicts - U.S.|publisher=interfax|date=2008-02-20|accessdate=2008-02-20]

Russian President Vladimir Putin said, "Our position is extremely clear. Any resolution on Kosovo should be approved by both sides. It is also clear that any resolution on Kosovo will set a precedent in international practice." Analysts take this as meaning Russia would come out for the independence of de-facto independent breakway regions in the Former Soviet Union. [cite news|url=|title=Putin says Kosovo resolution would set precedent|publisher=FOCUS Information Agency|date=2008-01-17|accessdate=2008-01-18]

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon in an interview for Interfax news agency said "Each situation needs to be examined based on its unique circumstances," and said Kosovo was a "highly distinctive situation" because of the intervention of the international community. At the same time he emphasised that recognition is left up to UN Member States and is not decided by the UN Secretariat or the Secretary-General. [cite news|url=|title=UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon: I wish to note that Kosovo is a highly distinctive situation|publisher=Interfax|accessdate=2008-03-11]

As a precedent for Republika Srpska

According to a poll of Bosnian Serbs taken by the Banja Luka-based Partner agency before Kosovo's declaration, 77% would support a referendum being called on Republika Srpska's independence from Bosnia and Herzegovina.cite news|url= |title=Bosnian Serbs want secession if Kosovo goes -- poll|publisher=Reuters|date=2007-11-21|accessdate=2007-12-28] The Prime Minister of Republika Srpska Milorad Dodik, citing popular demand, suggested that a referendum on the Serb entity's independence could be held if Kosovo declares its independence. However, Dodik denied accusations that there were already ballots being printed for such a referendum on independence. [cite news|url=|title=Bosnians stockpile staple food as fear mounts|publisher=Financial Times|date=2007-12-19|accessdate=2007-12-28] Since Kosovo's declaration of independence Bosnian Serb nationalists have called for Dodik to fulfill his promises and call a referendum. Dodik has since said he will only call a referendum if Srpska's autonomy is threatened. [cite news|url=|title=Bosnia's Dodik Calms Secession Fears|publisher=Balkan Insight|date=2008-02-20|accessdate=2008-02-20] Despite this Bosnian Serb lawmakers passed a resolution on Thursday February 21st calling for a referendum on independence if a majority of the UN members (97 out of 192), especially members of the European Union, recognise Kosovo's declaration of independence. [cite news|url=|title=Bosnian Serbs threaten secession over Kosovo|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-02-22|accessdate=2008-02-22] After the resolution was passed the U.S. cut aid to the SNSD and the resolution was condemned by the European Union. [cite news|url=|title=U.S. cuts aid to main Bosnian Serb party|publisher=PR-inside|date=2008-03-04|accessdate=2008-03-09] The Peace Implementation Council (PIC) overseeing Bosnia and Herzegovina said the country's entities have no right to secede. [cite news|url=|title=Bosnia Serb PM Dismisses US Aid Cuts|publisher=Balkan Insight|date=2008-03-05|accessdate=2008-03-09] The High Representative for Bosnia and Herzegovina, Miroslav Lajcak said Srpska has "absolutely no right" to secede and that he would use his Bonn Powers "if there are threats to peace and stability" or the Dayton peace agreement. [cite news|url=|title=Major powers reject Bosnian Serb secession calls|publisher=Agence France-Presse|date=2008-02-27|accessdate=2008-03-09]

In an interview for a Novi Sad daily, Dodik said if most countries recognise Kosovo's self-proclaimed independence, this would legitimise the right to secession and added "we do not see a single reason why we should not be granted the right to self-determination, the right envisaged in international conventions." [cite news|url=|title=Dodik insists RS has right to self-determination|publisher=B-92|date=2008-03-09|accessdate=2008-03-09]

A non–governmental organisation called 'The Choice is Ours' is calling for a protest demanding the independence of the Bosnian Serb entity. The group issued a statement saying, “If Albanians in Kosovo, where they are an ethnic majority can do it, then we, the Serbs, as the constitutional nation in RS can follow suit”. The organisation said it expected thousands of people at the rally who would sign a petition for the referendum, which will then be handed over to the Bosnian Serb Parliament. However, a date for the rally has not yet been set. Miroslav Lajcak reacting to the statement said that if Srpska was to leave the state of Bosnia "it would be a violation of the Dayton agreement and that those who advocate such move should be aware of the consequences.” [cite news|url=|title=Top Bosnia Envoy Warns Serbs|publisher=Balkan Insight|date=2008-03-25|accessdate=2008-03-29]

As a precedent in the former Soviet Union

Sergei Mironov, the chairman of Russia's upper house of parliament said in December of 2007, "In case of the unilateral recognition of the independence of Kosovo, Russia will be entitled to change its approach to the so-called unrecognised republics in the post-soviet regions - South Ossetia, Abkhazia and Pridnestrovie." He went on to say "In case of such a recognition of Kosovo, Russia will be able to say that it is free in its approach, including towards the so-called unrecognised republics of Abkhazia, South Ossetia and Pridnestrovie [Transnistria] ." [cite news|url=|title=Russia ready to recognize Pridnestrovie if Kosovo gets independence|publisher=The Tiraspol Times|date=2007-12-27|accessdate=2007-12-28]

Immediately following Kosovo's declaration of independence Russian officials appeared to soften their position with Boris Gryzlov saying only that Moscow should “reshape its relations with self-proclaimed republics” which according to news reports could mean lifting the economic embargo on the regions.cite news|url=|title=Separatist leaders give no indication of imminent recognition from Moscow|publisher=The Messenger|date=2008-02-20|accessdate=2008-02-20] On March 6, 2008 Russia's Foreign Ministry announced it had lifted sanctions on Abkhazia and called on other CIS member states to do the same. Russia denied the event had any connection to Kosovo, but Georgian parliament speaker Nino Burjanadze said she believed the move was part of Russia's response to Kosovo's declaration and signals an attempt to "annex" Abkhazia. [cite news|url=|title=Russia lifts Abkhazia sanctions|publisher=BBC News|date=2008-03-06|accessdate=2008-03-09] [cite news|url=|title=Georgia: Tbilisi Outraged At Moscow Withdrawal From Abkhaz Sanctions Treaty|publisher=Radio Free Europe|date=2008-03-07|accessdate=2008-03-09] Shalva Natelashvili, leader of the Labor Party of Georgia, said Abkhazia would be "finally separated from Georgia" and cited the lifting of sanctions as the first sign. [cite news|url=|title=Natelashvili: Georgia officially loses Abkhazia|publisher=The Georgian Times|date=2008-03-10|accessdate=2008-03-10] Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt, raised similar concerns about the dropping of trade restrictions saying, "That could look like a de facto annexation and that would be a matter of great concern if it were the case."cite news|url=|title=EU concerned at Russian moves on Abkhazia|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-03-10|accessdate=2008-03-10] Eduard Kokoity,the President of South Ossetia's breakaway republic, talking about recognition said, "Some countries will recognise our republics [South Ossetia and Abkhazia] . I cannot rule out that some of them may do so later this year. Russia, however, will not necessarily be the first to recognise our independence." [cite news|url=|title=South Ossetia's leader says recognition may come "this year"|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-02-20|accessdate=2008-02-20] Georgia, which claims South Ossetia and Abkhazia as its territory based on UN Resolutions, has warned that such recognition would amount to a declaration of war (see also United Nations resolutions on Abkhazia). [cite news|url=|title=Approaching Kosovo Deadline Ratchets Tension in Abkhazia|publisher=Georgia Today|date=2007-12-21|accessdate=2007-12-28] The U.S. State Department has urged for countries not to make statements which could prevent the peaceful settlement of Abkhazia and South Ossetia's status. They also called for all countries to reiterate their support for Georgia's territorial integrity and its sovereignty within the borders defined by the UN Security Council.

Armenia's Deputy Parliament Speaker Vahan Hovhannisyan has said Kosovo's independence will influence the settlement of the dispute over Nagorno-Karabakh. Foreign Minister Vardan Oskanyan declared at the UN General Assembly session in October of 2007 that the Armenian side “does not understand and cannot accept the reverse logic that Kosovo was given independence and that another nation cannot obtain self-determination." [cite news|url=|title=Kosovo seen as precedent by four more new countries|publisher=The Tiraspol Times|date=2007-12-17|accessdate=2007-12-28] Before being elected president, Armenian prime-minister Serzh Sargsyan said Kosovo was not a precedent for Karabakh. He underlined that Nagorno-Karabakh has been independent for the past 17 years. ru iconcite news |first= |last= |authorlink= |coauthors= |title=Совбез ООН по требованию России проведет экстренное заседание по Косово. НАТО созывает Совет альянса |url= |work= | |date=2008-02-17 |accessdate=2008-02-18 ]

Following a skirmish between Armenian military forces in Nagorno-Karabakh and Azerbaijan forces which left 4 Azeri and 12 Armenian soldiers dead, Azerbaijan said it was sparked by international recognition of Kosovo. US State Department Spokesman Tom Casey rejected the comparison stating "Kosovo is not a precedent and should [not] be seen as a precedent for any other place out there in the world. It certainly isn't a precedent for Nagorno-Karabakh." [cite news|url=|title=US Concerned About Fighting in Nagorno-Karabakh|publisher=Voice of America News|date=2008-03-05|accessdate-2008-03-09]

South Ossetia, Abkhazia, and Transistria have all submitted formal requests for recognition of their independence to Russia, among other countries, and international organisations citing Kosovo as a precedent. [cite news|url=|title=Georgia's rebel Abkhazia calls for independence recognition|publisher=Agence France-Presse|date=2008-03-08|accessdate=2008-03-09] [cite news|url=|title=Transnistria asks int'l community for recognition as Europe's newest country|publisher=Tiraspol Times|date=2008-02-29|accessdate=2008-03-09] South Ossetia's appeal was approved at a joint session of the breakaway republic's parliament and the parliament of North Ossetia a Russia autonomous republic. [cite news|url=|title=Ossetians ask Russian lawmakers to recognise South Ossetia|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-03-05|accessdate=2008-03-09] Russia's Duma called a session for March 13 to discuss the issue of recognition in respect to the unrecognised republics in the Former Soviet Union. [cite news|url=|title=RF Duma to hold hearing on unrecognised republics on March 13|publisher=PanArmenian Network|date=2008-02-27|accessdate=2008-03-09] However, Nagorno-Karabakh was not included in the agenda for the Duma. [cite news|url=|title=Representative of Russian Parliament: “Nagorno Karabakh Armenians will not attend hearings in the parliament”|publisher=Azeri Press Agency|date=2008-03-12|accessdate=2008-03-12] When asked about the appeal for recognition U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice dismissed it and said, “we’ve been very clear that Kosovo is sui generis and that that is because of the special circumstances out of which the breakup of Yugoslavia came. The special circumstances of the aggression of the Milosevic forces against Kosovars, particularly Albanian Kosovars, and it’s a special circumstance.” [cite news|url=|title=U.S Rules Out Recognising S.Ossetia|publisher=Civil Georgia|date=2008-03-06|accessdate=2008-03-09] Slovenian Foreign Minister Dimitrij Rupel said the European Union was concerned by what it considered moves by Russia to recognise Abkhazia. External Relations Commissioner Benita Ferrero-Waldner said, there was "a growing preoccupation and anxiety that Russia may be paving the way for recognition of Abkhazia," and stated the EU's support for Georgia's territorial integrity.

The Duma Committee for CIS on March 13th, following a hearing on the unrecognised republics recommended an upgrading of relations with Abkhazia, Transnistria, and South Ossetia including the possibility of recognition. Other recommendations included or reported are the establishment of diplomatic missions in the regions with the foreign ministry to decide whether they are consulates or another type of mission, a removal of import duties on goods created by businesses with Russian shareholders in the regions, and increased humanitarian and economic assistance for Russian passport holders in the regions. Alexei Ostrovsky, chairman of the lower house's committee on former Soviet affairs said at the parliamentary hearing, "The world community should understand that from now on the resolution of conflicts in the ex-Soviet area cannot be seen in any other context from that of Kosovo." cite news|url=|title=Russian lawmakers call for missions in Georgian rebel regions|publisher=Agence France Presse|date=2008-03-13|accessdate=2008-03-13] [cite news|url=|title=Russia Seeks to Deepen Links With Rebel Regions|publisher=Javno|date=2008-03-13|accessdate=2008-03-13] Participation of the breakaway republics in international organisations and forums was also mentioned in a press release before the hearings. [cite news|url=|title=Russia Intends to Open its Representations in Unrecognized Republics|publisher=Trend News Agency|date=2008-03-13|accessdate=2008-03-13] The Nezavisimaya Gazeta daily described the hearing as "the launch of a procedure of recognition." The committee recommendations are set to be put before a vote a week after the hearing. Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Grigory Karasin said the ministry would "look carefully at all the recommendations" but that Russian policy remained unchanged.

As a precedent for other disputed regions

Ozdil Nami a senior Turkish Cypriot official told the Turkish Daily News, "When diplomatic efforts are exhausted other alternatives are put on the table. We clearly see this in Kosovo where diplomacy proved futile and other formulas are floating around. This will certainly have an impact on Cyprus."cite news|url=|title=Turkish paper: Northern Cyprus eyes Kosovo outcome|publisher=B92|date=2007-12-27|accessdate=2007-12-28] Nami suggests the resolution of Kosovo may be applied to Northern Cyprus well. According to Nami, "Everyone sees 2008 as the last window of opportunity for a solution to the Cyprus problem." He claims Cyprus is being warned that "other alternatives could be on the agenda" if there is no resolution. Turkish Cypriot leader Mehmet Ali Talat has rejected this connection saying "We do not see a direct link between the situation in Kosovo and the Cyprus Problem. These problems have come up through different conditions." [cite news|url=|title=A united Cyprus: first fruit of Kosovo's independence?|publisher=New Kosova Report|date=2008-03-29|accessdate=2008-03-29]

Member of Palestinian negotiating team Yasser Abed Rabbo said if talks with Israel continue to falter, Palestinians should unilaterally declare independence. [ [,7340,L-3509005,00.html Abbas aide says declaring independence a possibility - Israel News, Ynetnews ] ] In reference to Kosovo, he said that "we deserve independence even before Kosovo, and we ask for the backing of the United States and the European Union for our independence."

Political leaders who have discussed the Kosovo precedent

The following political leaders have voiced their belief that the independence of Kosovo will create a precedent for other separatist movements.
*flag|Abkhazia - President Sergei Bagapsh [ [ Bagapsh: International recognition of Abkhazia sure to follow Kosovo precedent] , "", August 1, 2007]
*flag|Argentina - Foreign Minister Jorge Taiana [ [ Por las Malvinas, el Gobierno decidió no reconocer a Kosovo] ]
*flag|Armenia - Former President Robert Kocharyan [ [ Robert Kocharyan: "Kosovo may become a precedent for recognition of Nagorno Karabakh's independence"] ]
*flag|Azerbaijan - Foreign Minister spokesman Khazar Ibrahim [ [ Azerbaijan says not recognising Kosovo independence] ]
*flag|Belarus - President Alexander Lukashenko [ [ Belarus supports Serbians’ pursuit of territorial integrity] ]
*flag|Bolivia - President Evo Morales [ Venezuela's Chavez won't recognise independent Kosovo] ]
*flag|People's Republic of China - Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Jianchao [ [ China 'concerned', Australia backs Kosovo split] , "AFP", February 18]
*flag|Cuba - Former President Fidel Castro [ [$1410000000$3761853&f=20080301 Ataques al “padre” de la secesión de Kosovo] ]
*flag|Czech Republic - President Václav Klaus [ [ Czech, Slovak presidents: Kosovo sets precedent] , "b92", March 11, 2008]
*flag|Czech Republic - Former Foreign Minister Jan Kavan [ [ Activists want govt to oppose Kosovo independence] ]
*flag|European Union - High Representative for the Common Foreign and Security Policy Javier Solana [ [ Georgia: Solana Fears Kosovo 'Precedent' For Abkhazia, South Ossetia] ]
*flag|India - Ambassador to Serbia Ajay Swarup [ [ Ambassador: India's Kosovo stand consistent] ]
*flag|Kyrgyzstan - Foreign Minister Ednan Karabayev [ [ The position of the Kyrgyz Republic on Kosovo] ]
*flag|Mali - President Amadou Toumani Touré [ [ New governments of Spain and Cyprus will refuse Kosovo recognition] ]
*flag|Quebec - Member of the National Assembly of Quebec Daniel Turp [ [ Canada recognizes Kosovo, Serbia pulls ambassador] ]
*flag|Republika Srpska - Premier Milorad Dodik [ [ Kosovo may be next to split from Serbia] , "International herald Tribune", June 13, 2006]
*flag|Romania - Member of European Parliament László Tőkés [ [ "Kosovo model for Transylvania"] ]
*flag|Russia - President Vladimir Putin [ [ A KOSOVO “PRECEDENT” CUTS BOTH WAYS] , "Eurasia Daily Monitor", January 22, 2007]
*flag|Russia - Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov [ [ Kosovo precedent for 200 territories—Lavrov] , "Tanjug/B92", January 23, 2008]
*flag|Russia - Chairman of Foreign Affairs Committee Mikhail Margelov [ [] Possible steps are planned on Kosovo precedent in all regions of the world, Azeri Press Agency, February 16, 2008] [ [] Russia Will Have Its Eye on Those Who Recognize Kosovo, Kommersant, February 17, 2008]
*flag|Slovakia - Prime Minister Robert Fico [ [ World’s Reaction to Declaration of Kosovo’s Independence] ]
*flag|Slovakia - Deputy Prime Minister Dušan Čaplovič [ [ Slovaks divided on Kosovo] ]
*flag|Slovakia - President of the Slovak National Party Ján Slota [ [ Slota: The Kosovo Issue is a Precedent That May End in a Third World War] ]
*flag|South Ossetia - President Eduard Kokoity [ [ Georgia breakaway provinces eye Kosovo as precedent] , "Reuters", June 4, 2007]
*flag|Spain - Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos [ [] Spain says won't recognise Kosovo independence ]
*flag|Sri Lanka - Foreign Minister Rohitha Bogollagama [ [] ]
*flag|Tajikistan - Foreign Minister Asomudin Saidov [ [ Таджикистан не признает независимость Косово и считает ее опасной для Европы] ]
*", December 27, 2007]
*flag|United States - Former Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton [ John Bolton: Kosovo will spark islamic extremism in Europe] ]
*flag|United States - Congressman Dan Burton [ Bush administration tells Congress recognizing Kosovo was an exception] ]
*flag|United States - Congressman Ted Poe
*flag|Venezuela - President Hugo Chavez
*flag|Vietnam - Ambassador to the United Nations Le Luong Minh [ [ UNSC debates Kosovo in emergency session] ]
*flag|Wallonia - Deputee of the leading Wallonia party, the Reformist Movement Francois-Xavier de Donnea [ Wallonia in fear of independence of Kosovo] ]

Impact on international relations

The former U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. John Bolton, former Secretary of State Lawrence Eagleburger and former Assistant Defense Secretary Peter Rodman have warned that Western recognition of Kosovo independence would create "an avoidable confrontation with Russia" and "turn what is now a relatively small problem into a large one." [cite news|url=|title=Warning light on Kosovo|publisher=The Washington Times|date=2008-01-31|accessdate=2008-02-12]

On February 1, 2008 President Saakashvili described the Kosovo issue as a major challenge for Georgian diplomacy. [ [ Kosovo a Major Challenge for Georgian Diplomacy – Saakashvili] . "Civil Georgia". February 1, 2008.]

On March 8, 2008, Serbian Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica dissolved his government (except to perform caretaker functions) until new elections could be held, principally in reaction to Western support of Kosovo's independence. The next elections are expected to revolve primarily around the questions of European Union membership and Kosovo's recently declared sovereignty. [ [ Serbia Gov't Calls for Early Elections] ]

Prime Minister Vojislav Kostunica has said Serbia would not join the EU without Kosovo, though other members of the Serbian government have disagreed with his position. According to Polish paper Dziennik Jacek Saryusz-Wolski, the chairman of the EU parliament's Committee on Foreign Affairs, during a visit to Belgrade would "ask Serbs which of the two scenarios they will choose - isolation in a region that will in the next few years belong to the European Union or speedy integration." [cite news|url=|title=EU to propose 'isolation or integration' to Serbia|publisher=RIA Novosti|date=2008-03-26|accessdate=2008-03-27]

ee also

* Colour revolution
* Greater Albania
* Irredentism
* Kosovo status process
* Yugoslav Wars
* Controversy over Abkhazian and South Ossetian independence


External links

* [,7340,L-3507977,00.html How will Kosovo affect global politics?] Ynetnews
* [ Sovereign Kosovo raises questions for Hungarian minority -- Canadian Hungarian Journal]
* [ The Kosovo precedent in the making] Turkish Daily News
* [ Breakaway regions look to Kosovo precedent] Reuters
* [ Serbia warns of a new Balkan war as peace talks over Kosovo fail] The Times
* [ Messy Kosovo breakaway stokes fear of partition] Reuters
* [ Tensions mount by the shores of the Black Sea] The Globe and Mail
* [ The Kosovo Crisis in an International Law Perspective: Self-determination, Territorial Integrity and the NATO Intervention]

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